» Wedding PR: Developing and Nurturing Editorial Relationships

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

If there is one basic fact about public relations, it’s this: it simply cannot exist without the media.

We’re in a new age of editorial relationships – now more than ever, the number of people pitching (whether as a PR firm or on behalf of themselves) far outnumbers editors. So while relationships have always been at the heart of public relations, it’s now absolutely an essential.

Wedding PRSo what are the key points to keep in mind when nurturing your media relationships?

  1. Be a walking Rolodex and encyclopedia rolled into one.
    You are, no doubt, an expert in your field and the quicker the media realizes this, the better. The fact is- not every pitch will be accepted and your contributions to an article may hit the cutting room floor. But you can be resourceful in other ways. Did your quote not make the cut? Review the reporter’s recent work and consider pitching other topics of interest. Did your expertise not fit within the scope of their article? Share some friends and colleagues from your circle to help them wrap up the piece. Yes, reporters like to know that you’re an expert at something. But more importantly, they want to know that they can count on you.
  1. Be professional, always.
    If you’re pitching regularly, you may find yourself on friendlier terms with the media, which can be a wonderful thing. At the same time, you run the risk of letting your guard down a bit, allowing professional pitches to start taking on a more casual tone. While there is nothing wrong with adding a dash of informality to your correspondence, continue to remain mindful of submission guidelines and deadlines. I recently assisted a blogger friend with filling in content on a fast-approaching date and mentioned that I’d get it over to her as soon as I resized the photos to match her guidelines. I could practically hear her eye roll over email as she told me that that wasn’t necessary. We had a good chuckle over it but I have no doubt that she appreciated the courtesy all the same.

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» Wedding PR: Tips for Public Speakers

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

As I shared last fall, there are a number of steps you’ll need to consider taking if you’d like to begin diving into the world of public speaking. But what about those who have a few speaking engagements under their belt already? Or for those who have been speaking at the local level and would now like to be considered for national conferences?

Wedding PR: Tips for Public SpeakersWhile a clear understanding of your goals and prioritizing time to practice (and practice and practice!) will continue to be essential to the process, consider these tips and tricks to take your public speaking to the next level:

  1. Allow your topics to evolve – When you begin speaking more regularly, a funny thing happens: the topics that you thought would be most popular may actually be your least requested, and suddenly people are clamoring to book you for subjects you may not have considered. Because of this, it’s important to keep track of the needs of your prospects and evolve along with them. I also typically add 4-6 new topics to my portfolio every year to ensure I can offer fresh and inspiring content to event professionals.
  2. Organize your calendar – Make note of any major conferences where you’d like to pitch and familiarize yourself with their submission guidelines, as well as their deadlines. With the latter, note the deadline on your calendar as well as set a date several weeks prior so you can begin preparing.
  3. Ask for testimonials – Reviews are essential to your wedding business and the same can be said for your speaking career. Testimonials equal credibility, plain and simple, so after a speaking engagement, reach out as appropriate and request a review so that you can share it with future prospects.
  4. Request feedback – Never hesitate to ask for constructive feedback from both attendees and those that book you. Additionally, if you aren’t selected for a particular seminar or conference, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and inquire as to why you weren’t selected. The feedback could be invaluable.
  5. Be a thought leader – Speakers leverage their expertise even when they are not on the stage so take advantage of chances to share your knowledge with a wider audience. Many choose to utilize their blog as a channel while others set aside time to research guest writing opportunities as their schedule allows. Your visibility, as well as your reputation in the field, is crucial when being considered a thought leader in your industry.

Public speaking is a proven strategy for wedding professionals who would like to build an additional revenue stream while also increasing brand awareness for their company. With the above tips in mind and a commitment to better their craft, those just starting out in the field will continue to expect healthy return for their efforts.

» Wedding PR: Embracing Brand Journalism

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

If you’re a millennial, or anywhere in the vicinity of being a millennial, then you’ve spent the majority of life being sold to. And because of this, companies are having a more difficult time reaching their audience through traditional PR methods.

While press releases, media pitches and ads in general still have their place, companies are eager to find additional methods for getting their message out and engaging with prospective clients.

Wedding PR: Embracing Brand JournalismEnter brand journalism, a discipline that marries storytelling with promotion.

The fact is, stories connect us in an authentic way to our readers. The transparency involved invokes trust. And trust builds loyalty.

Brand journalism is relatively new to the public relations world and is now making its way into the wedding industry. It’s a perfect fit if you think about it – nearly every weekend you have a new story to share about a happy couple in love.

So how does it work exactly?

First, you need to dig into the story of your brand as well as develop the message you want to get across to your defined audience. You’ll also need to ask yourself what type of content will resonate with your target market. Just like qualifying company news to determine if it’s newsworthy, you need to put yourself in the role of the journalist and ask yourself if your prospective readers will actually look forward to reading what you have to say.

For some, that may mean in-depth profiles of each event, or perhaps behind-the-scenes peeks into planning.  If you pride yourself on your relationships with your clients, then perhaps they’re willing to share their story about how they came to work with you, and how you made a difference in their day. If you’re focused on building a personal brand, then be ready to share actual glimpses into your life – from the design of your office to the shoes you put on your feet in the morning.

Very simply put – if you’re having a conversation with your audience, what would that look like?

From there, it’s time to develop actual content. If you’re a strong writer, then it’s time to get to work. If it’s not your particular strength, then consider bringing in a writer to help craft your message. Regardless of what you do, make sure you do so from a place of authenticity. The moment you lose sight of this is the moment you lose your reader.

For many companies, their channel is their own web site and if you already have a blog in place, it can certainly be your platform to start. Like any good promotional strategy, you’ll need to continue to monitor it and evolve with the changing needs of your audience.

Ira Glass once said, “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” So the question remains – what story are you ready to tell about your brand?

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» Blogging for Wedding PR

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

When I mention blogging to just about anyone – client, colleague or all-around wedding buddy, I’m generally met with the same reaction: groan. I’ve come to expect it, in fact – even from those like myself who actual enjoy writing.

Blogging for Wedding PRAnd I get it – blogging takes time out of an already busy day. The idea of having to sit down, come up with a topic and then actually write isn’t terribly appealing. But, just like those not so fashionable yet oh-so-practical shoes you have to wear on event day, blogging is a necessary evil. This is particularly the case if you have an interest in increasing your press in 2015 and beyond.

First and foremost, it’s an undeniable fact that the media seeks out sources online. If you haven’t started chasing down the key words in your market for your area of expertise, then now is the time to make it happen. There are a number of factors that affect your Google rankings, and a regularly maintained blog with the appropriate key words is one of them. If there is a local editor looking to interview a wedding photographer, for example, then they’ll start searching online and you absolutely want to be on the first page of results to increase your chances of being contacted.

So what should be on your to do list? It’s time to either start studying SEO 101 or consider hiring an expert in the field. You’ll need to identify what key words are most popular in your market and then begin incorporating them as organically as possible within your blog posts through the tags, the title, the image descriptions and the body of the post.

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» Wedding PR: Building your Media List

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

I find myself regularly sharing tips on how to get published but the inevitable question always pops up – how do I build a list of media contacts in the first place?

Curating your own list of contacts – from blog editors and freelance writers to news editors and producers – admittedly takes a little bit (ok, a lot) of elbow grease and patience but the potential results are well worth the efforts.

Wedding PR: Building your Media ListSo how does one get started with creating a tailored media list?

First, it’s best to take pause and dig into your ultimate press goals as well as your proficiency. Media lists should not be arbitrary- instead they should be a collection of journalists whose beat (aka their general subject area) matches your expertise and who can connect you to your targeted audience. So in other words, if you’re focused on reaching engaged couples, don’t spend too much time focused on hunting down the name of the producer for the local 10am morning show.

Next, it’s time to get organized. While there are templates available, you can get the ball rolling by simply opening up an Excel file and creating the following columns: media outlet, link to the site, contact, email address (remember: journalists prefer to be pitched via email!), their social media handles and editorial deadlines (if applicable). Consider also making a column dedicated to additional notes.

If you already have a handful of media contacts, then great! Start filling in the blanks, making sure your information is current.

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» Measuring the Effectiveness of Your PR Push

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

For many, now is the time to look back on a year’s worth of marketing and PR efforts, as well as finalize plans for this year and beyond. And there is one question that often lingers among my clients and colleagues – how do I know what’s actually working?

Measuring the Effectiveness of your PR PushThis can be a tricky question when it comes to public relations, as success can be defined in a number of ways. A press mention, for example, may not always lead directly to new business, but that’s not to say that you haven’t reaped other rewards for your efforts.

Below are some of the questions I’d suggest diving into as you assess your public relations progress:

How does my press list look these days?
If you’ve streamlined your efforts, then you should have an internal list of all noted press for you to reference. Simply comparing your press in 2014 to previous years’ is a good start but it’s essential to dig a bit deeper. Did you see a rise in print features versus online? Speaking engagements versus guest articles? If you made a sincere effort to increase your PR strategies in 2014 but didn’t see a substantial rise in mentions, then it’s time to go back to the proverbial drawing board to decide what changes should be made.

What kind of traffic am I seeing on my web site?
If you’ve focused on online press, such as real wedding features, then no doubt you would have received a credit for your work, along with a link to your site. The hope is that readers will be impressed and want to learn more about your services. So take the time to revisit your web site analytics to see if your online press sent more traffic to your site.  A real wedding feature is certainly cause for celebration but if you find yourself in front of an audience that consistently does not have interest in learning more about you, then you may want to consider expanding your list of targeted media outlets for 2015.

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» Wedding PR: Preparing for 2015

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Wedding season has come and gone and while our first inclination is to put our feet up and enjoy the momentary quiet, it’s also the perfect time to put the wheels in motion to start strategizing for 2015.

Wedding PR: Preparing for 2015If the goal is to increase your PR strategies, or even refine current ones, now is the time to ask yourself the following questions:

What do I want to focus on?

PR can take on many forms – from real wedding submissions and guest writing, to TV appearances and speaking engagements. Now is the time to consider the target audience you’d like to reach and the best channels in which to connect with them. If you find that your favorite couples love finding inspiration through other weddings, then you’ll want to shift your focus accordingly. If your hope is to increase brand awareness among fellow wedding professionals, then public speaking may be the first “to do” to put on your list. Take time in the off season to create a road map for yourself, and you’ll no doubt be able to target your efforts for maximum impact.

What would I consider a successful outcome?

Return on investment can be tricky in PR, as it may not always boil down to a direct increase in new business.  A real wedding feature may lead to a new piece of business but more than likely, if promoted correctly, it will impress visitors to your web site and allow you to stand out from your competition. So before diving into a PR campaign, be sure to come up with your own definite goals so you can decide how to reach them.

How can I plan ahead?

A not so secret PR tip: savvy wedding professionals make it a priority to get organized in the off season so they are in a better position to execute strategies during the busier points in the year. This will take a bit of planning so now the time is to consider ways to get ahead- whether you focus on creating a media list, researching conferences to pitch or developing a media kit to distribute to editors. With real wedding submissions, decide if you have enough organizational tools in place prior to the start of the season to collect images, wedding information and vendors.

While you should certainly take the time to enjoy a successful year, commit to maximizing the time you have now by preparing yourself for the best year yet.

» Wedding PR: Media Kits

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

The cardinal rule of public relations remains constant in this always-evolving industry: the key to success is making it easy on the media to find you and learn more about you. Remember – most journalists are constantly on a deadline and only have so much time to get the information they need.

Wedding PR: Media KitsA media kit is a great tool that does just that – giving the media pertinent company details for their story. And just how important are media kits? In a recent study by TEKgroup International, 98% of journalists agreed that companies should have a media kit, preferably as an online press room.

That’s right – gone are the days when professionally designed, printed media kits were the preferred method for distribution. Now, it’s advised that the budget allocated for the creation of a print media kit now is redistributed toward a goal of a strong, easy to navigate online press center.

The inevitable question becomes: what should you include in your media kit? While the must-have’s vary depending on the company, below you’ll find some of the most common items you’ll want to consider including:

  • Company fact sheet with interesting points such as your mission statement, company size, location and target client
  • Company profile/history outlining your story
  • Biographies for each member of your team
  • Logos and Photos, that are easy for the media to download
  • Recent Releases featuring newsworthy announcements about your company
  • Contact information for press inquiries (that’s you unless you’ve hired representation)

I’ve always found that examples help my clients better visualize the final outcome, and look no further than WeddingWire’s own Press Center for inspiration.

Looking to develop meaningful media relationships? Take the first step by creating an informative and comprehensive media kit that editors will no doubt appreciate.

» Wedding PR: Book Yourself as a Speaker

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

When you think about public relations, and Wedding PR specifically, real wedding features is probably one of the first strategies that comes to mind. But public relations, by definition, is the management of one’s reputation in the marketplace, and promotional tactics can extend far beyond simply submitting events for exposure.  Public speaking, for example, is a fantastic way to increase brand awareness for your company while also building your reputation as an expert in your field.

Wedding PR: Book Yourself as a SpeakerBuilding a career in speaking, if for the above reasons or to assist with building an additional revenue stream for your company, can be an intimidating notion. The good news? If you’re familiar with the process of pitching to the media, you’ll find the learning curve is much less so.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Finalize your goals: If you’re going to add speaking to an already busy career, you need to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Are you looking to increase your wedding business or get in front of other wedding professionals? Different organizations attract different audiences so you want to make sure you’re ultimately targeting the ones that will put you in front of your audience.
  2. Consider your topics: What are you an expert in? If the goal is to speak in front of engage couples, then it should be related to planning a wedding, but you can expand on that if your audience is industry wide. Put and all thoughts down and be ready to visit this after step #3.
  3. Do your research: Now is the time to start combing your area for opportunities. Do you belong to any organizations that regularly feature speakers? Are there industry associations regionally that may be a fit? And think above and beyond the event world. If you are a small business owner, for example, seek out groups dedicated to serving that niche. Look into local chambers of commerce as well as rotaries.  Just keep in mind that larger conferences will expect you to have considerable experience so focus on smaller gigs to start. Continue reading

» Be Your Own Wedding Publicist

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

As a wedding professional, you are an expert at what you do. You’re your own personal storyteller and brand ambassador. So when it comes to publicity, it’s a natural fit to represent yourself in the media.

Sound intimidating? Have no fear. Committing to below steps will help you be your own wedding publicist and bring you that much closer to your next press mention.

Be Your Own Wedding PublicistWhat many don’t realize is that there are a few steps to consider before diving headfirst into public relations. First, assess your brand to make sure it’s truly at its best. If your logo needs a refresh or your web site is outdated, now is the time to work on these things. After all, the point of PR is to direct people to your brand and if it isn’t at its very best, it makes little sense to invest time into promotion. Additionally, take time to consider your goals for introducing PR into your strategies. Do you, for example, want to be considered a leader among your peers, or among engaged couples? Is there a particular region that you’d like to target or a niche bride? Defining your goals will give you much needed focus as you move onto your next step.

From there, ensure you have a streamlined system for assessing your return on investment. Install Google Analytics (or a similar program) on your web site, as well as make sure every prospective couple is asked, “How did you hear about us?” Being able to measure your efforts is key to determining what strategies, PR or otherwise, are successful.

Next, you’ll want to devote time to a research phase. Fill your shopping cart with wedding magazines that have piqued your interest as well as commit to reading wedding blogs more regularly.  Spend time with some of the local publication as well. The goal is to create a list consisting of targeted media outlets that you’d like to pitch over time- whether that be a swoon worthy real wedding, a guest blog submission or a press release announcing something about your company.

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» Wedding PR: The Vendor Connection

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

When I worked in the world of reception venues, I found that I was often the first face of the event. If something went awry with the one thing or another, it inevitably fell into my lap. On the plus side, when things went spectacularly, I was one of the first to hear it.

I was quickly humbled to learn of all of the components that needed to come together to make a fantastic event happen – from the rentals and the flowers to the entertainment and transportation. So when I was on the front line receiving compliments from attendees or, better yet, the client, I was quick to sing the praises of the entire team.

Wedding PR: The Vendor ConnectionThe same can be said for wedding PR. Sure, the images are essential to a real wedding submission, but that “go team” attitude is equally important. The editors recognize that as well, so it’s essential that you gather a list of participating vendors when working on your submission.

To streamline your submissions, consider sending along a vendor form for the couple to complete prior to the big day. Emailing it 30 days out from the event should ensure that they have everyone booked, but aren’t so bogged down with last minute details that they can’t complete it in a timely manner. Be sure to include categories relevant to each part of the day, as well as leave a spot marked “other” in case a unique service was booked.

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» Wedding PR: Planning Ahead for Real Wedding Submissions

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Back in my reception planning days, there were two things I could always count on: the bridesmaids would never wear their dresses again and any email responses from the couple here on out would take at least a week, if not longer.

During the planning process, you’re the wedding hub. The disseminator of information. The peacekeeper. Emails often come in at a frantic pace from your client. But once the I Do’s have been said and the guests depart, priorities change.

Wedding PR: Planning Ahead for Real Wedding SubmissionsYou kindly remind the happy newlyweds to come by and pick up the top tier of their cake, but your emails go unreturned. There are honeymoons to take and duplicate gifts to return after all.

In most instances, parting ways electronically with the new Mr. and Mrs. wouldn’t pose much of a problem (save for the uneaten cake of course!), but if you’re planning to submit the wedding to a blog or publication, you’re suddenly facing an uphill battle.

While detail-heavy photos from the wedding day tend to be the most impactful portion of real wedding submissions, other key components rely on cooperation from the couple.

First and foremost, you want to have their permission to submit. An easy solution to this is to ask your lawyer to add a clause in the contract allowing you to use wedding day images for marketing and public relations purposes.

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